Social Media and Healthcare
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Physician, Brand Thyself -- Or Suffer The Dire Consequences

Of all the things that they forget to teach you in medical school, marketing is certainly one of them. And today, the dominance of social media and crowd-sourced ratings make it almost imperative that clinicians stay mindful of their reputation in the marketplace. Some people call it your brand. But between physical exams and insurance forms, this "clinical brand" may not ever get to be very high on your to-do list.

But don't worry. I've called in a specialist--you can even call him the brand doctor. Mark W. Schaefer is a globally recognized author, speaker, podcaster and business consultant who blogs at {grow}—one of the top five marketing blogs of the world.

 

He teaches graduate marketing classes at Rutgers University and has written six best-selling books, including The Tao of Twitter (the best-selling book on Twitter in the world) and The Content Code, named by Inc. magazine as one of the top five marketing books of the year, and his new book KNOWN: The Handbook for Building and Unleashing Your Personal Brand in the Digital Age. Mark also wrote the classic first book on influence marketing, Return On Influence.

So, put down your stethoscope and log into one of your social media accounts...

John Nosta: Let's start with understanding just what is a personal brand and its components.

 

Mark Schaefer: I've done research for the last few years to discover how people become known in the world. Part of that research involved interviews with nearly a hundred people from around the world in varying fields (including medicine). And I found that every person, in every field, in every region of the world followed the same four steps gain an advantage through their personal brand.

Briefly, those four steps are:

  1. identifying a sustainable interest (what you want to be known for).
  2. finding an un-contested space on the web.
  3. creating consistent, meaningful content.
  4. building an actionable audience.

Nosta: How does branding apply to the healthcare professional?

Schaefer: I think that every professional can potentially have a sustainable competitive advantage by being known. It's kind of word-of-mouth on steroids. Where do you want to go next with your career? Attract more patients? Be named to a prestigious board? Maybe write a book or speak someday? To do that, you have to be known.

Nosta: At the core is the "position." How can a HCP focus around a unique selling proposition?

Image provided by Mark Schaefer

Schaefer: I have a new angle on the "selling proposition" in the book. I don't think people want to be "sold to" any more. They buy from those they know, like and trust. So how do we do that today on the internet? By using technology to create an emotional connection with people. By helping them, serving them, maybe even entertaining them. Instead of "selling," I think the operative word is "helping" today.

Nosta: Let's talk technology. How can HCPs leverage social media to help establish and grow a brand? (Is this going to hurt?)

Schaefer: If it "hurts," it's not going to work. That's why I focus so much on this concept of the "sustainable interest" in the book. Developing a personal brand in the digital age requires that you love what you're doing because if you don't it's going to show! So it makes sense to really think this through and not simply follow a "passion" (as so many gurus suggest!) but to have a real plan that will give you the very best chance of success.

If you find a system and a rhythm that works for you, you'll be able to develop something consistently because it does take time and patience to make this work.

 

Schaefer: I think there are two things that overwhelm people. Number one is the rate of change. How do I keep up with this stuff? The first thing to do is find a content type that you enjoy (like writing or video) and stick with just that one thing for at least a year. Build an audience in one to two places like Facebook and Twitter. That's it. Just concentrate on that one small step.

The other thing that overwhelms people is the regulatory aspects. I have several examples from regulated industries in the book and it really can work. Just look at social media as an extension of yourself. You don't break rules or violate patient privacy in real life. Why would you do it online? Just do what comes natural--help, serve, explain.

Nosta: Do you have a short case study or example of success in this category?

Schaefer: I know of this pediatrician who wanted to establish a presence on the web to do one thing: educate people in her community to get inoculated. And it was that single-minded vision that allowed her to focus and maximize her efforts. She had a of success using content on the internet to reach those individuals with that information. You see, being known is different from being famous. It's not about millions of fans and red carpet appearances. It's about being intentional about your reputation and web presence so you can achieve your goals. So, the bottom line is to focus and enjoy the ride.

Follow me @JohnNosta for a more informed and healthy future.

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Social Media and Healthcare
Articles and Discussions on the intersection of Social Media and Healthcare.
Relevant to Healthcare Practitioners, Pharma', Insurance, Clinicians, Labs, Health IT Vendors, Health Marketeers, Health Policy Makers, Hospital Administrators.
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Social Media Implementation Checklist

Social Media Implementation Checklist | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Set goals first. If traffic, leads and sales are part of the goal, then gotta have the next focus be on content creation. Then, using social to share. Can't get much value out of social unless you're actively creating, publishing and sharing content. 

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Hupertan's curator insight, September 23, 2015 4:32 PM

The implementation of a communications strategy in social media in healthcare need not stick with the drafting of a check list. There she is!

venisabella's comment, November 4, 2015 10:36 AM
http://bit.ly/1FXxmYF
MARGARITA's curator insight, December 31, 2015 5:15 PM

Support our people

http://technomaxs.com/the-best-smart-phone-ever/


http://www.gogetfunding.com/our-children-burial

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White Coats on Instagram: What Does Pharmacy Look Like?

White Coats on Instagram: What Does Pharmacy Look Like? | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

With more than 300 million users, Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms available. The image-sharing interface has allowed subscribers to share information and ideas with others around the globe. Users on Instagram post photos and videos from their daily lives, linking them to searchable data tags called hashtags (denoted with a preceding # symbol).
 
A new study published in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association analyzed the use of the “#pharmacist” tag on Instagram. The researchers hoped to categorize the intent of the collected posts and discern whether they were self-portrayed or health care related images.
 
After a 14-day trial period, the researchers selected 661 posts that used #pharmacist in their caption. The posts were characterized into categories including Advertisement, Celebration, Pharmacy Education, Humor, and more. Investigators then subjectively determined if the posts contained self-portrayed images and if they were related to health care.
 
Most of the posts (19.7%) fell into the Celebration category. Work Experience contained 18.6% and Advertisement contained 12.6%. All other categories contained 10% or less of the Instagram posts. 
 
Less than a fourth (23.2%) of the posts were self-portrayed images. Conversely, the vast majority (88%) of posts were related to health care.
 
Given that only 5.5% of images provided patient education or drug information and just 1.8% of images were viewed as advocating for the pharmacy profession, pharmacists may be ignoring a useful mode of communication with prospective patients in this social media-driven age.
 
The authors also expressed concern for the potential risks social media exposure brings. Since the content is all user-created, false information can easily spread online and damage credibility. They also caution against the use of humor as it may promote negative stereotypes about the profession.
 
In an ever-changing technological world, Instagram and other forms of social media can be useful tools for pharmacists to provide patient education, public health information, or professional advocacy to diverse patients worldwide.
 
Reference
 
Hindman FM Jr, Bukowitz AE, Reed BN, Mattingly TJ 2nd. No filter: A characterization of #pharmacist posts on Instagram. J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). 2017 Mar 4. pii: S1544-3191(17)30009-2. doi: 10.1016/j.japh.2017.01.009. [Epub ahead of print]

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The ethics of recruiting study participants on social media

The ethics of recruiting study participants on social media | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

In the recent issue of the American Journal of Bioethics, the target article addresses the ethics of finding participants for clinical trials on social media sites. The authors, from Harvard Law School and Harvard Medical School, analyzed the particular ethical issues that occur in the online setting compared to in-person recruitment and provide practical recommendations for investigators and Institutional Review Boards (IRBs).

 

"Recruitment to clinical trials is extremely challenging, raising distinctively practical and ethical issues, and social media is beginning to show real promise as a recruitment tool, due largely to its ubiquity and use among just about every demographic," Professor Luke Gelinas of Harvard Law School told Phys.org. He says that there has been little serious reflection on the ethical and regulatory issues raised by recruitment using social media. He also thinks that recruiting via social media risks being under-utilized.

"Our working group wanted to address the ethical issues toward the end of providing some concrete guidance to IRBs and investigators, which can hopefully facilitate the review and use of social media as a recruitment mechanism."

Today online communities provide virtual support groups for people with certain diseases and for their friends and family making virtual groups a good place to find potential research participants. Furthermore, social media allows researchers to find participants that have been traditionally hard-to-reach, such as those with rare diseases.

According to Gelinas, "One of the main takeaways from our article is that recruiting online is in many ways similar to more traditional 'off-line' methods of recruitment. You can usually draw analogies between online and off-line scenarios—e.g., comparing approaching a social media support group for cancer to approaching an in-person hospital support group—that can help us get our bearings when evaluating social media recruitment."

In-person recruitment can be divided into two categories: passive and active. Passive recruitment might be posting a flyer in a doctor's office in hopes that a potential participant will contact them. This would be analogous to posting a banner ad on a medical website or an online patient support group.

Active recruitment, on the other hand, would involve emailing a particular patient in an online support group based on the person's online activity. This would be analogous to approaching a particular patient in a clinic based on the doctor's knowledge of his or her condition. With these two distinctions in mind, ethical guidelines can be laid out for online recruitment.

Where possible, the rules for active and passive recruitment offline, also apply to the online platform. Gelinas et al. suggest first identifying an analogous offline situation to the social media technique being proposed. In this way investigators and IRBs can identify the most pertinent ethical considerations in the offline situation and use them as a guide to the ethics of the online situation. Then, they can identify ways that the online version differs from the offline version.

In-person or offline ethical norms prioritize beneficence, respect for persons, and justice. These foundational norms can therefore be translated to the online world. However, the online platform is distinctive in that it provides more interconnectedness and embedded personal information than offline interactions do. Because of this, the authors contend that every online interaction must address respecting the privacy and respecting the other interests of social media users. Additionally, they discuss the importance of investigator transparency in online interactions.

Respect for privacy can be a tricky thing when it comes to social media and other online platforms. For one, people may share personal information that, if they knew it would be used for research purposes, they may not share. Additionally, many people are unaware of online security risks and end up sharing information that is more easily accessible than they thought. Investigators are encouraged to seek permission to use personal information even if the information has technically been published online. Furthermore, investigators should not share personal information even if it has been shared online.

Transparency, which would fall under respect for persons, requires investigators to be up-front with who they are and the nature of their research online. Specifically when recruiting, investigators should be honest in describing the aims, details, risks, and benefits of their study. In many cases, investigators may need to contact the site moderator to obtain permission to recruit from their group. Additionally, investigators should not create fake online identities or pose as a participant of the group.

One issue that is specific to the online platform in regards to transparency is whether investigators are required to let people know that they are collecting data. Depending on the nature of the research study, investigators could reasonably obtain information just by "lurking" on the group page. The authors contend that the obligation for an investigator to disclose that he is collecting data is related to how public the particular social media group is. If the group is a closed-group in which only members can view comments, then this would likely mean the investigator should disclose that he is doing a study.

Another issues specific to online recruiting is tapping into someone else's network to find potential research participants. A participant's network will likely have people who have similar demographics, experiences, or qualities to the research participant. However tapping into the research participant's network risks disclosing the participant's eligibility for a particular clinical trial. Therefore, this must be done in such a way that protects the privacy of the participant.

Finally, there is a risk that people will discuss a clinical trial online. Unlike in-person trials where participants may not come in contact with each other, they possibly could interact online, especially if they are from the same support group or network. This may skew the results of the trial.

Clinical trials are an important part of medical research, but as many as 60% of clinical trials are delayed or cancelled because researchers cannot find enough research participants. Turning to online platforms increases the number of people that an investigator can reach, which in turn, results in more participants available for a study.

"While some IRBs have explicit policies in place for social media recruitment, many do not, and there is a sense, as in other areas, that the technology is outpacing the ethics," Gelinas says. "For IRBs who have the bandwidth, developing written policies and holding educational sessions on social media can be extremely helpful in getting members up to speed, and we hope that our work can be useful in this effort."

Explore further: How effective is Twitter to share cancer clinical trial information and recruit?

More information: Luke Gelinas et al. Using Social Media as a Research Recruitment Tool: Ethical Issues and Recommendations, The American Journal of Bioethics (2017). DOI: 10.1080/15265161.2016.1276644

Abstract
The use of social media as a recruitment tool for research with humans is increasing, and likely to continue to grow. Despite this, to date there has been no specific regulatory guidance and there has been little in the bioethics literature to guide investigators and institutional review boards (IRBs) faced with navigating the ethical issues such use raises. We begin to fill this gap by first defending a nonexceptionalist methodology for assessing social media recruitment; second, examining respect for privacy and investigator transparency as key norms governing social media recruitment; and, finally, analyzing three relatively novel aspects of social media recruitment: (i) the ethical significance of compliance with website "terms of use"; (ii) the ethics of recruiting from the online networks of research participants; and (iii) the ethical implications of online communication from and between participants. Two checklists aimed at guiding investigators and IRBs through the ethical issues are included as appendices.

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Using Social Media: Guidance for Health professionals

  • Be professional at all times.
  • Maintain appropriate professional boundaries.
  • Take care not to breach patient confidentiality.
  • Respect patients and colleagues in your comments.
  • Follow GMC guidance Doctors' use of social media (2013).

The ethical principles that apply in your professional interactions also apply to social media. Many people may see what you post, and not necessarily those you intended to see it. Once posted, content can be very difficult to remove.

Definition of social media

Any online interaction that involves a conversation, participation, sharing content or networking, may be defined as social media.

Examples:

  • social networking (eg Facebook)
  • blogs and microblogs (eg Twitter)
  • content sharing (eg Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube)
  • membership or interest groups (eg doctors.net).

Areas of potential medico-legal difficulty

Privacy

Social media sites cannot guarantee privacy, however secure your privacy settings.

Your pages, sites, blogs, feeds, online discussions and comments may be read by people you may prefer didn't see them. Patients, employers, colleagues, national media and regulatory bodies, for example.

Before posting, consider how you would feel if a colleague or patient saw what you had written, or if it was shared to a wider audience.

If you share a photo, your location may be automatically embedded. This may not be ideal in all circumstances.

You should review the privacy settings for each of your social media profiles regularly.

Confidentiality

The principles of confidentiality apply whether you are communicating offline or online.

Social media should not be used to discuss individual patients, living or dead. Posting details of a clinical case, however heavily anonymised, without patient consent would constitute a breach of confidentiality – as would sharing a photograph of a patient's condition.

Professional sites (eg doctors.net) allow exchange of information between doctors. In discussing a case anonymously, it may be possible for someone to piece together details that identify the patient.

Even a closed group may have hundreds, if not thousands, of members – which means there can be a risk of another member sharing your post outside of the group. Keep in mind also that, although some professional sites are intended solely for doctors, it is possible that not everyone on these sites is a medical professional. 

When you post personal comments on social media (say, about your working day), be aware of how your comments may be viewed by colleagues or patients, and whether you are revealing confidential information. Most breaches of confidentiality happen inadvertently.

Maintaining boundaries

For doctors, the boundaries between personal and professional use of social media can blur. Your behaviour and relationships with patients online should be no different from how you would behave towards them in person.

Patients may, for example, send a friend request to your personal Facebook page. You should politely and clearly explain to them that this is not appropriate and, if relevant, direct them to your professional profile.

For more information, see our guide to maintaining patient boundaries.

Respect for colleagues

The GMC's guidance, Good medical practice requires you to treat colleagues fairly and with respect. You should not harass, bully or make unsubstantiated comments about colleagues online. Similarly, you should not libel or defame any individual or organisation.

Anonymity

If you identify yourself as a doctor on a publicly accessible social media site, you should also give your name. If you would not make a comment in your professional life offline, social media is not a platform for doing so anonymously.

Conflicts of interest

You should be open about any conflicts of interest that may apply when posting online, such as financial or commercial interests in healthcare organisations.

Images and videos

Images or audio-visual recordings can only be used if you have the patient's written consent to the specific use. It is possible that images and recordings posted online may be re-used in a different context.

If a patient complains about you on social media

Patients are increasingly turning to social media to criticise doctors. Think carefully before responding and avoid getting drawn into a 'war of words' online. Dealing with criticism through a site moderator, without breaching patient confidentiality, is probably the safest way to deal with this type of feedback.

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Is Your Healthcare Organization’s Social Media as Healthy as It Can Be?

Is Your Healthcare Organization’s Social Media as Healthy as It Can Be? | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Social media marketing can work wonders for a business, but many healthcare providers and organizations don’t know how to get the best outcomes on social platforms. But these platforms provide businesses with such outstanding opportunities to generate exposure and engagement that it’s a mistake not to use them as part of your healthcare marketing plan. All this requires is creating high-quality content related to health and wellness, and then distributing that content on the proper social platforms. The way to know which platforms and practices are right for your healthcare business is to understand your audience and set up goals for your social efforts. To help your healthcare organization develop the right social strategy, Business2Community answered questions that will help you get better social media marketing results.

Which social media networks are best for a healthcare organization?
The best social networks for your business are the platforms preferred by your target audience. Rather than trying to be on every social network, choose the few that are most relevant and resonate with the audience you’re trying to engage. Start by using only one or two social platforms and do everything possible to achieve success on those networks. Then, you may want to consider bringing your message to other social platforms that also speak to your target customer.

 

What are the right social media tools for a healthcare organization?
While it may seem smart to seek out only the latest tools, it’s better to figure out which tools will be most useful for your social media marketing tasks and goals. Today, there are all kinds of social media tools available, and many are low cost or even free. The main tools that every healthcare business needs will ease the processes of social media scheduling, social listening, and metrics.

 

Is it better to use organic distribution or paid distribution?

Rather than choose to use only one, you actually need to rely on both. This is because recent changes in social media algorithms have made organic distribution alone insufficient. Today, both strategies pay off in their own unique ways. If you think you can’t afford to use both, think again. Using both distribution tactics doesn’t need to be costly. Even just a small monthly budget for paid social media can make a big difference. In addition to being less expensive than many traditional healthcare marketing methods, social media allows an organization to get very specific in its targeting.

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Healthcare Marketing: Shift from the traditional to the digital

A look at how social media is being utilized within the healthcare industry and how social media has changed interactions between healthcare companies and pati…
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C. Todd Livengood's curator insight, March 27, 11:45 AM
The industry, always behind most, doubles down on digital.
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Social Media: 10 Steps for Meeting Newbies

Gear up for a more immersive and interactive experience at the ACR 2017 meeting and beyond.

 

​"That Twitter thing seems pretty cool. How can I get started?"

I get that question a lot from physicians who want to participate in social media but don't know how. With the ACR's 2017 meeting quickly approaching, the #ACR2017 hashtag will soon be filled with good content. So now is the perfect time to get connected.

A number of social media platforms offer different use cases for physicians, but Twitter is best for meetings. Since our team's report on its growth at RSNA from 2011 to 2012, Twitter's use at radiology meetings has skyrocketed. Tweets from RSNA still outnumber the rest, but activity at each ACR annual meeting continues to grow.

Twitter is a great way to connect with thought leaders and to learn. You don't need to push out your own content to benefit (although it's highly encouraged, since Twitter works best when everyone shares), but you do have to sign up to get started. As you see others posting content — and watch how easy it is — you'll soon become more comfortable joining in on the fun.

To newbies, Twitter is admittedly a bit daunting. But if you follow these 10 steps, you'll quickly be on your way to being fully engaged by #ACR2017:

1. Sign up. Don't get left at the station after the train pulls away. It only takes a couple minutes — and it's free. Head over to Twitter and sign up.

2. You're more than a number. When you register, you'll be asked to pick a Twitter "handle." I'm @RichDuszak. Use some variation of your name so others will readily know who you are. You may love to grow orchids on weekends, but calling yourself @OrchidFarmer will make it really hard to brand yourself professionally.

3. Identify yourself as doctor. I don't have an MD in my Twitter handle, but my profile clearly identifies me as "Rich Duszak, MD." Others, like @MattHawkinsMD and @DrGMcGinty, put their credentials right in their handles. Either way is fine. What's important, though, for professional engagement is to unambiguously let the world know you're a physician. 

4. Don't be an egghead. When you register, Twitter will assign you a generic egg avatar. Unless your goal is to appear completely disengaged, upload a photograph. People are more inclined to connect if they see your face.

5. Introduce yourself. It's great to have a name and face, but if you want to really engage, tell everyone a little bit about yourself. Twitter permits only 160-character profiles, so strive to be pithy and parsimonious. But you do get extra fields to post a link to your webpage and tell everyone where you're from. 6. You only get one chance to make a first impression. Look at the two profile examples below to see what I mean. If you've cut any corners, now is your chance to make a better first impression.

Figure 1. What your Twitter profile will look like if you don't care about first impressions.
Figure 2. What your Twitter profile could look like if you follow steps 1 through 5. With which Rich Duszak would you rather connect?

7. Follow others. At meetings, I enter the official hashtag (eg, #ACR2017) in the Twitter app's search bar. It's a great way to track what's going on at the meeting, but if you want to engage with others after the meeting, you'll have to individually follow them. Their tweets will then automatically show up in your Twitter feed (ie, no searching necessary). I'm admittedly biased, but I think all ACR members should follow @RadiologyACR, @JACRJournal, and @NeimanHPI. Search for those handles, and then click the follow button. Next, check out who your favorite radiology thought leaders follow, and select accordingly.

8. Start tweeting. If you've made it this far, it's time to take off your training wheels. You now have a good sense of what you can fit into 140 characters. Go ahead and send out your first tweet! If you tag @RichDuszak and add the hashtag #MyFirstTweet, I'll personally welcome you to Twitter — and so will others.

9. Embrace the learning. If you follow the right people, you'll quickly learn a lot and broaden your horizons. If, like me, you embrace Twitter as a powerful tool for learning and engagement, you'll be fast on your way to getting hooked. 

10. Commit to staying engaged. Not everyone will turn into a Twitter-aholic. That's okay. But the people who find the most success are the ones who read and react regularly. Turning on your Twitter account just twice a year (RSNA and ACR) isn't a bad start, but you'll learn a lot more if you use Twitter consistently.

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Social media research in the health domain (tutorial)

Tutorial about the use of social media in the health domain. The tutorial is designed for healthcare professionals interested in eHealth. It was done for Weill…
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Want better patient engagement? Use social media

Want better patient engagement? Use social media | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Looking for a better way to reach your patients and guide them to being more engaged in their own health care? Then expand your social media presence.

 

That was the message Kevin Campbell, MD, a cardiologist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, told attendees at the annual meeting of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.


Dr. Kevin Campbell



“Social media is where our patients, customers, and consumers, as well as our colleagues are and where we need to be,” Dr. Campbell said.

He called out three specific social media tools – Twitter, Facebook Live, and blogging – as the most effective for physicians. The first two offer a key way to connect with patients and colleagues – the ability to use video.

“The most important thing out in the digital space in terms of engagement is video and the visual,” Dr. Campbell said. “You’ll get 6,000% more engagement with a video-type point of contact. That can be a link from Twitter or it can be a Facebook Live [session] or a YouTube video.”

Video messaging also helps doctors support their peers, Dr. Campbell said.

“We can provide timely information to our colleagues,” he noted. “We have Twitter chats with fellows-in-training … I can talk to fellows who are in Germany about a technique we’re using here and then they can learn more about that technique.”

Secure social media channels also can be used to share thoughts and ideas regarding a clinical query regarding a specific test or imaging result, he said.

“The patient benefits because there are more brains thinking about their problem,” he noted.

Blogging also can be effective for reaching out to patients and colleagues as it provides a way to disseminate information on topics such as new treatments or learning about disease states.

But if the blog is set up to be interactive, doctors can get insights into their patients’ health concerns, Dr. Campbell said.

“I let patients write on my blog and I actually learn a ton about the patient experience,” he said. “I don’t even think of X, Y, and Z situation. I will be more empathetic to this because of what [they] told me.”

The caveat, of course, is that specific, protected information cannot be shared or posted.

“The attorneys will really get upset,” he noted. “So you do not develop a legal duty to that patient. But you can talk about treatments and what’s out there and what’s available. ... There may be a new treatment for leukemia that’s experimental that’s coming out of a university in Philadelphia and I can talk about that treatment.”

Dr. Campbell also said social media can be effective for doctors to promote themselves, pointing to his own career where he serves as a regular commentator on both the national and local levels. Engaging with media outlets can help turn a doctor into a key opinion leader, he said.

“If you say something important, engage about important issues, patients, consumers, industry partners and other leaders in the field are going to engage with you,” he said.

Dr. Campbell reported no conflicts of interest.

gtwachtman@frontlinemedcom.com

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The use of internet and social media by Healthcare Professionals and Consumers

consumer health informatics
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Digital Marketing for Healthcare: Best Practices and Case Study 

Digital Marketing for Healthcare: Best Practices and Case Study  | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Note: this is the first in a series of posts dedicated to digital marketing for healthcare. Following posts will address such topics as Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and the importance of mobile.

The healthcare industry is in the midst of an upheaval the likes of which have not been seen before. Changes to Medicare reimbursement formulas, HIPPA, the rise of the super group, and the way insurance works all play a role in shaking the very foundations of healthcare. With increased competition for the healthcare dollar, hospitals and groups are turning to digital marketing to improve their awareness and lead generation.

 

Building a digital campaign focused on growing awareness and lead generation can make an immense difference to both hospitals and healthcare groups. If you’re wondering about some of the digital marketing tools that are available for healthcare, read on.

Let services, not physicians drive your brand

It wasn’t very long ago that – from a marketing point of view – everything was driven by a physician’s name. Patients sought practitioners they had heard of. But the rise in choice of healthcare played a role in changing how consumers look for medical services. Today, consumers want what they want when they want it. Rather than fight against the change, embrace it, and use it to your advantage. Focus on the services you offer, not the physicians who offer them. Ask what sets your group or hospital apart and build on the answer.

Make your website work for you

Your website is the hub of your digital efforts. It’s where you want to drive your leads, because it’s the primary spot where you’ll turn your leads into consumers – your patients. You want your site to be optimized for search keywords, usability, and content. Doing so will help your website appear further up Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for the services you offer, and help increase the likelihood that users will remain on your site and get to know you better.

If it’s not already, be sure to convert your website to support mobile. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly two-thirds of Americans own smart phones, and for many these are key entry points into the digital world. You want to be able to serve information to the user in the way that he/she wants it. Being able to click to call or make an appointment provides easy response mechanisms. In addition, you can bring in potent call tracking tools to help you measure your success.

A word about content

Today 80% of any decision to purchase is made before the service provider is contacted. Gone are the days when consumers had to go to a provider to find information. Given that, it’s important to be a part of the decision making process early on – while consumers are pulling together the information that will drive their decision. How do you do that? By providing great content that will help consumers in their research process AND establish you as an expert in your field. Offer articles on your expertise and any other helpful information that consumers can use. They will thank you with their business.

The power of remarketing

Remarketing is a powerful tool for targeting your audience. It lets you reach the people who have already visited your site by showing display or social media ads while they browse the web. It reminds them that your practice is out there. A best practices note: it’s important to set the frequency cap to limit impressions – you don’t want to bombard your audience and risk turning them off your brand. 

Conversion actions

Don't forget to add a conversion action that your users will respond to. A call-to-action such as 'Schedule an Appointment' provides a high level of reach and will get patients through your doors.

Social media

Think HIPPA precludes the use of social media? Think again, because you can use social media while respecting HIPPA. Social media can help with brand awareness and establishing expertise. If you’d like more information on how healthcare organizations can use social media, be sure to read our post.

A real life example: OA Centers for Orthopaedics

Perhaps the best way to demonstrate what a digital marketing campaign for healthcare looks like is to take a look at a campaign VONT and Ethos developed for OA Centers for Orthopaedics in Portland, ME.

When Ethos and VONT began working with what was then Orthopaedic Associates of Portland, Ethos recommended a rename and a rebrand to differentiate their premier specialty orthopaedic practices from hundreds of practices named Orthopaedic Associates nationwide. Renamed and rebranded as OA Centers for Orthopaedics, the practice began to market the brand, the service line, and the physician in that order, rather than physician first, service, then brand.

The campaign had two goals: increased brand awareness and lead generation. The strategy was focused around “you have a choice” to play off the rise of choice in healthcare. (Note: This type of campaign works for specialty practices that are choice-based. Certain specialty practices such as anesthesia and trauma surgery are by their nature not something consumers choose.)

Some radio, display, and PR were used in the efforts, while the goal of the digital campaign was to bring users to the redesigned website by targeting people with insurance who had orthopedic injuries – those people who searched on keywords such as ACL injury or orthopedic care. The conversion action was to schedule an appointment.

OA had an enormous volume of good content around a variety of orthopedic conditions such as ACL, rotator cuff, and spine related injuries, so not a lot of new content was needed. VONT optimized the current content for organic search by focusing on a concerted SEO effort that entailed optimizing content and building links.

These organic efforts were complemented by an awareness raising display campaign. Display ads focused on professional athletes who chose OA. Ads were shown on a 7-day rotation and reinforced the brand as well as drove users to the website.

Remarketing was also used as brand reinforcement for previous visitors to the site. Ads reinforcing the brand were run for 30 days – the time in which patients usually receive orthopedic treatment. A frequency cap was used to limit impressions to one impression per day.

Females have been shown to make 80%-85% of medical decisions – these are the moms, girl friends, spouses of people with sports injuries. Knowing this, VONT set up a social media campaign supporting OA’s Saturday morning clinic by targeting those influencers of athletes who may have been injured in Friday night games.

An AdWords paid search campaign was also used for specific keywords relating to injury. A paid search campaign is effective because it allows your ad to reach people at the very moment they are searching for what you have to offer.

The result? There was a broad level of reach and patient counts at OA soared. Conversion cost was $25/appointment.

The takeaway

Creating a digital campaign for healthcare is best served by a holistic approach. Make sure you have a good brand as a platform then leverage it by building awareness. Know your audience. Be found when people are looking for procedures. Remarket to reinforce your brand.

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How Anesthesiologists Can Use Social Media

As the Department of Anesthesiology's digital communications manager, I spend a lot of time integrating social media into our promotion and outreach strategy.
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What’s the Value of Social Media for Healthcare Brands? |

What’s the Value of Social Media for Healthcare Brands? | | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

The healthcare industry is in the midst of massive change. With the introduction of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), declining reimbursements, rising consumerism, and hospital consolidation, it is imperative for healthcare organizations to develop innovative strategies to increase their bottom line. In this increasingly competitive marketplace, branding is ever more critical to the success of your healthcare organization.

Enter social media. We currently live in a digital world where 80 percent of all internet users (approximately 93 million Americans), have searched for a health-related topic online. According to one study, 57 percent of consumers said a hospital’s social media presence would strongly influence their choice regarding where to go for services. It also indicated that a strong social media presence was interpreted by 81 percent of consumers as indicating the hospital offered cutting-edge technologies. 

It is empirically clear there are tremendous opportunities to enhance your brand visibility through social media. As a regulated industry, however, healthcare organizations have been slow to incorporate social media for fear of liability, privacy and security breaches. But ignoring social media is not an option today. Healthcare brands must arm themselves with knowledge and procedures to effectively track, capture, and secure real-time social media content for record retention and audit purposes.

How do I use social media?

Social media allows communities to share real-time content across different platforms such as blogs, social networks, professional networks, video and photo sharing sites, online discussion forums, etc. 

In order to leverage social media effectively you must:

  • Create relevant content that engages your target audience. Patients and healthcare professionals actively use social media to share information, discuss healthcare policies, research treatments, symptoms, provider reviews and more. As a healthcare brand, it is critical you create high quality, reliable content that educates your audience. Contrary to evidenced-based medical reports, social media thrives on patient stories for collective medical knowledge. Personal stories, however, are vulnerable to misinterpretation. As a healthcare brand, you must be vigilant in monitoring content for quality control and accuracy.
  • Educate your employees. The consequences for inappropriate social media use by healthcare professionals can be devastating to your brand reputation.  Physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals are ambassadors of your brand and therefore must be provided specific guidelines for online professionalism.

According to a national survey, there was a high consensus that physicians should never post:

  • Misinformation on physician practice websites
  • Misleading information about clinical outcomes
  • Use patient images without consent
  • Misrepresent credentials
  • Inappropriately contact patients using dating sites
  • Violate patient confidentiality

The Mayo Clinic is a trailblazer in social media engagement in healthcare industry. In 2010, the Mayo Clinic established the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network (MCSMN) with the conviction that “individuals have the right and responsibility to advocate for their own health, and it’s our responsibility to help them use social networking tools to get the best information, and connect with providers as well as one another.”

The Mayo Clinic’s Social Media Network website offers a library of resources such as webinars, podcasts, discussion boards, events and dedicated tutorials on how to use social media for healthcare professionals. It also has a strong presence on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. As a result, the Mayo Clinic has elevated its brand and reputation for excellence and innovation.

The excerpt above is from our new e-book which can be downloaded by clicking on the link below.  

If you’re in healthcare, insurance, technology or other professional services industries, and need help with a PR, marketing or social media campaign, contact Scott Public Relations.

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Understanding Patient opinion leaders in social media

This presentation takes a deep dive into patient opinion leader behavior in social media. It also show cases ways to incubate social media leaders rather than …
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Social Media in Healthcare Marketing 

Social Media in Healthcare Marketing  | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

When you think "digital patient," which generation comes to mind? Millennials? Their parents? An increasing number of Baby Boomers?

The answer is yes to all of them, but older generations are increasingly getting online with healthcare. In fact, a 2014 survey by McKinsey found that more than 70% of older patients — the consumers who use healthcare services the most — want to use digital technologies for healthcare services.

But with innovative online communication platforms popping up almost daily, figuring out the digital channel in which to invest your healthcare system's resources can be tricky. Multiple factors need to be considered, starting with knowing your healthcare consumer base.

The digital tools your consumers want to use varies widely by age. While younger consumers express a willingness to engage with healthcare systems over social media, older consumers tend to prefer traditional digital channels such as email or websites. Demand for mobile healthcare — websites and digital tools optimized to work on smartphones and mobile devices — is highest among younger consumers, too. The content you share on these platforms should be tailored to the type of patient who uses it most.

Consider these tips when discussing which digital marketing strategy is best for your healthcare organization.

Don't overthink the basics

A hospital's home page is still one of the single most important digital touch points for consumers looking to search before they call or schedule. According to Google Think surveys, more than 75% of patients said they used hospital websites for research. Only 32% said they used TV, 20% said they used magazines, and just 18% said they used newspapers.

Online should help, not hinder

Online reviews seriously impact how consumers select doctors and hospitals these days. But too often, healthcare systems and hospitals get rated like a dining experience — was it quick, convenient, and was the service you received pleasant?

While that may be a good way to evaluate a fast food restaurant, healthcare and hospital experience officers want to know more about the patient's full experience, especially if it was negative. Soliciting the kind of meaningful, quality reviews your organization needs requires help. And keeping up with review volume and knowing how to respond appropriately can become an unmanageable task. A software solution and services that help solicit positive reviews and monitor negative ones is a great way to relieve some of the burden for your organization. Plus, you get help maximizing the impact of the good reviews with services to pushing those raves back out to ratings sites.

YouTube

Whether it is a informational video on how to recognize symptoms of a disease or state-of-the-art drone footage of your hospital or healthcare system's campus, studies show that consumers who view videos of hospitals are more likely to engage with that hospital for services. According to a survey done by Google and Compete, Inc., nearly 40% of patients who watched an online video about a hospital later talked to friends, family, and others about that hospital. The same study found that 34% contacted that hospital, and 21% shared the online video. Videos created and posted to a YouTube channel can also be easily cross-promoted. Because YouTube's website is flexible, healthcare systems can embed YouTube videos on their home page, share them over social media, or just include links to them in email newsletters.

Beware of investing in age-inappropriate digital content

If your data research shows social media is used mainly by patients under age 35, would you share articles about how to manage arthritis? Probably not. Save that content for other digital channels where you know you are engaging an older clientele, such as email newsletters or the website's home page. Articles on health promotion and prevention services would be more appropriate for your healthcare system's social media channels, where it will resonate with the typically younger audience. Learning how different age brackets of your patient base engage with you digitally will help you determine how to invest in digital.

Be visible in Google Local Search

We've told you about this before, but having your hospital or practice show up in the local results when a prospective patient searches for “hospital" is a crucial way to build brand awareness. Your practice may be very successful at appearing in search results when searched for specifically, but it may be almost invisible when prospects search for generic terms. Patients who are looking for a hospital online are looking to go to that hospital, and accurate and visible information will help drive that patient to you.

Resources aren't unlimited, and choosing which social channels your healthcare system invests its time and money in requires taking a good hard look at your patient base. Who are they, and where do they research your hospital or healthcare system most? Customizing your marketing approach to the type of consumer who seeks you out on that channel, as well as nailing the basics will help you add views across multiple digital platforms.

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Exploring the Use of Social Media to Engage Parents in Patient-Centered Outcomes Research

Exploring the Use of Social Media to Engage Parents in Patient-Centered Outcomes Research | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Background: With the rapid growth of technology and its improved accessibility globally, social media is gaining an increasingly important role in health care. Patients are frequently engaging with social media to access information, share content, and interact with others in online health communities. However, the use of social media as a stakeholder engagement strategy has been minimally explored, and effective methods for involving participants in research on the identification of patient-centered outcomes remain unknown.

Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the process of using social media to engage parents in identifying patient-centered outcomes, using acute respiratory infections in children as an example to gauge feasibility.

Methods: We conducted a process evaluation of a two-phase Web-based strategy to engage parents in research on patient-centered outcomes. In the first phase, we developed a website and study-specific Facebook and Twitter accounts to recruit parents to complete a Web-based survey identifying patient-centered outcomes. In the second phase, we used Facebook to host discussion with parents based on the survey results. The reach of social media as an engagement strategy and the characteristics of the population recruited were assessed.

Results: During the first phase, there were 5027 visits to the survey site, 110 participants completed the survey, 553 unique users visited the study website (675 visits), the Facebook page received 104 likes, and the Twitter account gained 52 followers over the 14-week study period. Most survey respondents identified Facebook (51.8%, 57/110) or a friend (45.5%, 50/110) as their source of referral. It was found that 70.0% (77/110) of respondents resided in Canada, in urban centers (92.7%, 102/110), and 88.2% (97/110) had a college or university degree or higher. The median year of birth was 1978 and 90.0% (99/110) were female. Most survey responses (88.2%, 97/110) were completed during the first month of the study. In the second phase, 4 parents participated in the discussion, our Facebook page gained 43 followers, and our posts reached 5866 users. Mirroring the first phase, most followers were female (79%, 34/43), between 35 and 44 years (49%, 21/43), and resided in Canada (98%, 42/43). User engagement was variable, with no clear patterns emerging in timing, topic, or type of post.

Conclusions: Most participants were highly educated, urban dwelling, and female, limiting diversity and representativeness. The source of referral for most survey respondents was through Facebook or a friend, suggesting the importance of personal connections in the dissemination and uptake of information. User engagement with the Facebook-based discussion threads was inconsistent and difficult to initiate. Although there is substantial interest in the use of social media as a component of an effective patient engagement strategy, challenges regarding participant engagement, representativeness, obtaining buy-in, and resources required must be carefully considered.

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Can Social Media Improve Patient Participation in Cancer Clinical Trials? 

Can Social Media Improve Patient Participation in Cancer Clinical Trials?  | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Less than 5% of patients with cancer participate in clinical trials, and most publicly funded cancer trials in the US fail to enroll sufficient numbers of patients to generate reliable results.1 For patients who do participate in clinical trials, they may not be representative of the population of individuals with cancer – participation is particularly low among older individuals and those in some racial and ethnic groups.2

Barriers to clinical trial participation were discussed at December’s American Society of Hematology (ASH) annual meeting. In a special-interest session on social media and clinical trials, the use of Twitter for clinical trial recruitment was discussed by a panel that included several clinicians and a patient advocate. The other session was an industry/advocacy forum on creating a diversified clinical trial and included the patient point of view.

Patient Perspective on Barriers to Trial Participation

Jennifer Ahlstrom, Founder, Myeloma Crowd, Salt Lake City, Utah, presented the patient perspective at the social media session. Ms. Ahlstrom says that trying to enroll in a clinical trial is “labor intensive” for patients who don’t feel well, are scared and think they may be dying and don’t know what their options are. “That’s a hard time to make decisions,” she said.

She was diagnosed in 2010 with multiple myeloma and assumed after her initial treatment she would join a clinical trial because of recurrence. She searched clinicaltrials.gov and discovered over 450 open myeloma trials.

“I didn’t understand any of the drug names, what they did, what they were for, even the standard therapies.” She called 8 facilities to learn about their clinical trials and got a call back from two.

“The process is not patient-centered,” she said. “You have to really fight to get into clinical trials and [it’s] a big reason patients don’t join.”

Ms. Ahlstrom said another reason patients don’t join clinical trials is that their doctor doesn’t refer them, whether it’s because they don’t want them to go outside their practice or they just don’t know what clinical trials are open at other facilities.

To inform other patients with myeloma about clinical trials, she started an online radio show, Myeloma Crowd Radio, which features hour-long interviews with investigators, asking them to explain their research and clinical trials, including the rationale and eligibility in patient-friendly language.

To date, 95 shows have been produced and archived, and are available as audio files and transcripts to a million listeners and readers.

Her Myeloma Crowd website shares news about trials, and its SparkCures tool allows patients to access information about vetted clinical trials that would be appropriate for them.

Barriers for Minorities

On the topic of increasing clinical trial diversity, Cheryl A. Boyce, Patient Ambassador, Columbus Ohio, said, “the efficacy of a drug is really important for anyone who has an active disease process. And with many drugs I’m not sure what the efficacy is for people who are African American. So, the diversity issue is of critical importance.”

She used the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male — now referred to as the US Public Health Service Study3 — and the more recent experiences of Henrietta Lacks, whose tumor was the source of the widely-used HeLa cells,4 as examples of how things can go very wrong for people of color.

She said that many people in African American communities have heard those stories, and find it difficult to put trust in researchers who don’t look like them, or understand the cultural context of their belief systems. The underrepresentation of people of color as clinical investigators works against clinical trial recruitment.

Twitter as a Recruitment Aid

With Twitter, Michael A. Thompson, MD, PhD, Aurora Health Care, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, pointed out that pharmaceutical companies can tweet links to publicly available clinical trial information, e.g., if it is on clinicaltrials.gov, and suggested including the NCT number for tracking.

However, additional content not publicly available would probably require institutional review board approval to disseminate. He suggested pharmaceutical companies could use Twitter to follow conversations, e.g., those occurring at medical meetings, but not use it to promote their booths at those meetings.

The FDA has developed draft guidances to present information on drugs and devices using internet and social media platforms with character space limitations, i.e., Twitter,5 as well as a guidance for correcting third-party misinformation about drugs and devices.6

In general, information distributed by pharma on social media is subject to the same regulations that apply to distribution by any other means.

Joseph Mikhael, MD, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Phoenix, Arizona, acknowledged that many patients who may be eligible for clinical trials may not be on social media, but that often their family members or caregivers are. However, some patients will never be on Twitter, so other means of patient contact will be needed.

“Recruiting underrepresented minorities in clinical trials remains a grave challenge in medicine, and the use of social media might help by broadening the scope of information about clinical trials and research in general,” he said.

Dr. Thompson offered that a search of hashtags associated with ASH and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meetings allowed him to locate an appropriate local trial for a patient.

Ultimately it seemed that social media might be more useful for providers than patients.

Patient-Driven Solutions

Ms. Ahlstrom said that The Myeloma Crowd has run live patient meetings that were highly technical. This year they are producing pilot meetings for the minority community that are more basic, and have the theme of 5 steps to getting the best myeloma outcome.

One of those steps is to be aware of clinical trials.

Ms. Ahlstrom said, “I think one key thing is that the minority communities need to understand why knowing more is in their self-interest. It truly means longer life, which we want everyone to have.”

Ms. Boyce will be helping The Myeloma Crowd to identify topics that will apply to minority communities. She noted that the Intercultural Cancer Council has identified barriers to participation by underrepresented populations in clinical trials, and published policy recommendations several years ago.7

She said, “We know what we need to do; we just haven’t found the political will to do it. We’re better at planning than at implementing.”

Recommendations include removing barriers like lack of transportation or insurance, having awareness and education campaigns, addressing mistrust and language barriers, recruiting minority investigators, and encouraging referrals to clinical trials.

“If clinical trial participation is truly a priority in this country, we have to find a way to bring policy makers, industry, clinicians and community advocates together to figure out what parts of current policy are contradictory and serve as barriers themselves before we ever engage people. Every role should be defined and what support services are necessary to overcome barriers,” Ms. Boyce said.

She envisions a national education campaign that could even include information on cereal boxes and milk cartons, so the public will learn about clinical trials and research long before they may ever need to think about their own participation.

The Role of Advocacy Organizations

Daniel Auclair, PhD, VP, Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF), Norwalk, Connecticut, said that patient advocacy groups can help break through barriers such as distrust toward pharma companies sponsoring trials and of the clinical trial process more generally.

Advocacy organizations may be able to provide better education about clinical trials to both clinicians and patients as well as devise personalized approaches to engage specific patient communities.

He noted that the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) (like other advocacy foundations) has a personalized clinical trial matching tool that is more patient-friendly and has more patient-specific information than that on clinicaltrials.gov, as well as a patient call center staffed 7 days a week around the clock.

Dr. Auclair said they need to go to patients “on their turf, in their terms.” Patients who have been in clinical trials can serve as patient ambassadors to bring information to their community to learn more about trials.

Patients need to be active participants and they need to be supported so they can participate in clinical trials because “clinical trials test new drugs and new drugs save lives,” he concluded.

Looking Ahead

Ms. Ahlstrom, Ms. Boyce, and Dr. Auclair all noted that when African Americans, who have fared poorly in the past, have improved access to treatment, they may do better than others with myeloma, probably due to lower-risk genetic abnormalities.

Dr. Auclair said that myeloma has been the “poster child” for disparities, as African Americans have 2 to 3 times the rate of myeloma as other populations.

If the results of small studies showing they fare as well or better with treatment were replicated in larger studies, those data could support the entire population receiving treatment.

Dr. Auclair said that one reason clinical trial enrollment may be higher in other areas, e.g., Europe, is that the healthcare system tightly regulates the availability of drugs. The only way patients may have access to the newest agents is if they participate in clinical trials.

“Especially in this climate, more than ever, we may want to think about the access issues and the socioeconomic issues. We don’t know where the system is going but it may become a little more like in Europe, where going onto clinical trials will be a way where you can access these drugs that you can access now, but may not be able to access in the near future. I think clinical trials may become more important in the future than they are now,” he said.

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Online Reputations in Healthcare

Over the past few weeks I have had no fewer than five different conversations on the topic of online reputations in healthcare.

It started with a fun and lively debate with my colleagues at work. There are a few members of the team who are not active on social media and there are others who are extremely active. Those that do not use social media saw it as a narcissistic pastime that has no place in business. Those that use it actively saw it as a place to share ideas, learn new things and connect with people. During the discussion one of the younger members of the team blurted out:

If you aren’t going to get on social media to establish your own reputation then you are essentially letting others define your online persona. Don’t you want to be in control of that?

By coincidence that was the exact line that spurred me to start being more active on social media. Six years ago a colleague of mine said that to me and it didn’t take me long to see the wisdom of her words. Over the years I’ve come to realize that online reputations matter. It matters when considering whether to hire someone, to do business with someone or to even befriend someone.

I mentioned in last week’s blog that I recently switched dentists. One of the criteria I used in selecting a new one was their online reputation and presence. I looked at online reviews of dentists in my area – on Google, on Yelp and on a local business rating site. I focused on any practice that had more than 35 reviews (Why 35? I figured anything less than 35 was either not statistically relevant and too easy to “game” with fake reviews). I think I read over 100 reviews across 10 dental practices.

I also looked to see if any of the dentists themselves were active on social media: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and even SnapChat. I didn’t find many that were online, but a few were. During my search I did stumble onto the Twitter feed of a dental hygienist. It was an impressive feed – lots of articles posted about how keep teeth white, what foods stain teeth the most, etc. But mixed in with the curated articles were personal comments about how much fun she was having at work. There were quite a few tweets about how supported she felt by her co-workers and how she looked forward to going to work each day. (Sorry for privacy reasons I’m not going to reveal her Twitter handle here).

That hygienist’s social media activity plus the online reviews tipped my decision. I’m now a happy patient at their practice.

For physicians, nurses and care providers, managing their online reputation can be a time-consuming job that has an unclear Return-on-Investment (ROI). A recent JAMA Study, highlighted by Rachel Arndt revealed that in 2014, 60% of patients said online reviews were important when selecting a doctor, yet in 2017 less than a third of doctors had any online reviews. Clearly patients are making choices using criteria other than just online ratings.

I believe it would be a mistake for those in healthcare to ignore their online reputations. A big wave of consumerism in healthcare is upon us and patients WILL BE using ratings/online searches to find providers. Now that patients are shouldering a bigger share of the financial costs of their care, they will begin to take more care (excuse the pun) on who they select as their healthcare professionals. Is it fair to judge someone solely by their online reputation – of course not. HOWEVER, there is so little transparency and standard measures of “good care” in healthcare that there are no real alternative information sources for patients.

Pretend for a moment that you were a patient in a big city looking for an Ear-Nose-and-Throat (ENT) doctor. Like many, you’d probably search Google. Of the 10 practices that appeared, suppose one had a 4.5-star rating and 500 reviews, the next had a 3-star rating and only 10 reviews and the remaining 8 had no rating whatsoever. Would you not gravitate to the 4.5-star rated one? Would you even research the ones with no reviews at all?

Many physicians have complained about the bias that is shown towards negative reviews (some studies put the power of a negative review at 10x that of a positive one). Rightfully so, some physicians say that some reviews are written by patients who had unrealistic expectations in terms of their health outcomes and took their frustrations out by writing a terrible review. Sometimes these jaded patients become social media trolls.

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Social Media and Today's Hospitals

Social Media and Today's Hospitals | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

When Facebook logged its first likes in 2004, no one was predicting that social networking would become a tool in the practice of medicine. Yet it has. From the revered Mayo Clinic to little-known regional specialty centers, the health care industry is finding that social media helps attract new appointments, generate revenue, and build relationships.

Research published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research in 2014 shows that virtually all hospitals in the United States are now using social media in some way.1 This is not an overstatement: 94.4 percent of the 3,371 hospitals reviewed operated a Facebook page, and 50.82 percent had a Twitter account. This study found that private nonprofit and teaching hospitals, typically in large urban areas, are the highest users of social media.

Although individual physicians aren’t using social media at the same rate as hospitals, they are finding it useful. In fact, another 2014 study, this one by MedData Group, found that more than 50 percent of the physicians using social media for work purposes are engaging with peers, marketing the practice, or providing thought leadership for patients.2

Leading the Way

The Mayo Clinic system is a recognized leader in health care industry use of social media.

Lee Aase, Mayo Clinic

Its expertise in using social platforms to connect with patients and build business is so valued that other health care organizations lean on the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network (MCSMN; #Mayo Clinic SMN) for collaborative help. In partnership with Hootsuite, the MCSMN even developed a continuing medical education course to teach medical providers how to create an online presence.3

Lee Aase is the director of Mayo’s Social and Digital Innovation Team, which is staffed by eight media professionals who orchestrate the system’s posts on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and You Tube. Activity on each outlet is unique, as shown below in the Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ feeds one afternoon in mid-January 2017.

Each of the posts focuses on a particular subject area, ensuring a different experience for each media outlet user. The day’s topic selections can be influenced by the request of a Mayo department seeking more publicity (the sports medicine department in the Twitter feed), relevant national news stories (cervical cancer awareness month in the Google+ post), or the opening of a new hospital wing (the fifth floor of the Luther Building in the Facebook post). No matter the content decision, its goal is the same: to instill appreciation for Mayo Clinic and its resources.

In an interview, Aase pointed out that today’s widespread use of social media by Mayo Clinic is in keeping with its history. “Our reputation was made through word of mouth,” he said, “and that is just as true today as it was 100-plus years ago. Patients would come to Mayo Clinic because a friend recommended us. Now, social media provides ways for people to share the same types of recommendations.”

“Just Like Talking to a Patient”

Perhaps the most vivid examples of such recommendations are found on the Mayo Clinic’s YouTube channel, which features videos capturing everything from a patient’s first reaction to his restored sight via a bionic eye to the precise symptom presentation of a baby with whooping cough. No doubt thousands of that video’s million-plus views were by frantic parents trying to determine whether their infant’s bark-like sounds warranted a trip to the local ER.

One of the most powerful applications of Mayo Clinic’s YouTube channel is its line of videos for patients that feature staff physicians and other clinicians. These videos can offer information and encouragement to a patient trying to understand his or her rare diagnosis, reinforce the education provided during a complex office visit, or calm a patient’s unease before a surgical procedure by providing a step-by-step visual explanation of it.

Take, for example, the diagnosis of ventricular tachycardia, a condition that causes the heart to beat faster than normal. It can be treated with medication, surgery, or both. To a patient receiving this diagnosis after experiencing rapid heart activity, the term alone sounds ominous. By directing a newly diagnosed patient to a YouTube video accessible in the comfort of home, Mayo Clinic can repeat the information presented at the treating physician’s office. The video presentation is likely to be better understood because it is more digestible. The Mayo Clinic’s YouTube channel features videos on ventricular tachycardia and many other topics.

The educational application of social media is particularly appealing to busy physicians. They typically don’t have the time to prepare lengthy written material — but they’re more than happy to talk about what they know and what they can do for patients.

“For many doctors, it all comes down to time. That’s where the capturing of video is so helpful,” Aase said. “We [the communications team] take care of everything. They are happy to share their expertise in a manner that is just like talking to a patient.

“In the videos, we’re looking for them to say the things they say to patients several times a day, only to a broader audience,” Aase continued. “They’re demonstrating their expertise and showing empathy. We book a 15- to 30-minute timeframe and make them at ease. It’s a much more efficient use of time, and it is more impactful and genuine.”

Mayo’s Social and Digital Innovation staff uses smartphones and consumer-grade cameras to shoot video, then edits and loads to appropriate channels. As physicians and other Mayo Clinic staff members have been exposed to the value of social media via these video sessions, more are requesting that the team help them “take control of their identity” on LinkedIn and Twitter, Aase said. He and his staff regularly coach interested physicians in how to beef up their profiles across platforms.

Setting Ground Rules

In an age when a Twitter rant can get you fired, it’s important for all employers to have clear policies for social media usage. This is especially true in the health care industry, where privacy of information is sacrosanct. The Mayo Clinic developed guidelines for employees’ social media activity, and many other hospitals have followed suit.

The document boils down to common sense and the practice of established medical ethics. “The main thing is that they should stick to talking about what they know and what they do,” Aase said.

“No one should practice medicine online. We advise them to elevate it out to general terms, such as ‘a patient with these symptoms may have this condition, and these are the standard options for treatment.’ This highlights their understanding and avoids looking like they are giving a prescription to a patient.”

Smaller Markets

Granted, most hospitals don’t have the size or patient reach of the Mayo Clinic. So what about hospital use of social media in smaller settings and markets?

In a mid-sized or small city, the approach can be more streamlined and personal. The emphasis may also be on community relationships and trust more than branding on a large scale.

Lafayette Surgical Specialty Hospital (LSSH) in Lafayette, La., is a surgery center owned by 34 physicians in various surgical specialties. The mid-sized city of Lafayette is a competitive market for health care services (nine freestanding hospitals for a population of 124,000), and LSSH distinguishes itself by creating a facility where health care meets hospitality. Liz Hebert is the director of marketing and business development for Lafayette Surgical Specialty Hospital. Since she was hired in January 2015, she has focused the facility’s social media outreach on Facebook, where she works to build a sense of trust. She automatically feeds the LSSH Facebook posts to the hospital’s Twitter feed.

“I want to show people that we are involved in the community,” she said. “We use Facebook to inform the public about things we are involved in, and to show that we are a trusted resource for information.”

As shown above, Hebert recently used the LSSH Facebook page to promote a community event she organized in conjunction with a new fitness facility. Anyone who saw the page was invited to a free class at a new indoor cycling facility near the hospital.

One of the most effective uses of social media at LSSH is highlighting the community-oriented activities its staff is involved in, Hebert said. The hospital uses its social platforms to feature events like its “31 Days of Giving Back” campaign during the month of December that encouraged random acts of kindness and a spring scavenger hunt that raises money for the local United Way chapter. Other posts report on patient satisfaction surveys and honors received by staff members.

“For me, the most important reason for our hospital to use social media is to develop a level of trust,” Hebert explained. “Even when you are confident in your choice of a surgeon and hospital, you’re still nervous. With our posts, and our day-to-day activities, we try to reduce those fears. We care about the community. We are dedicated to your care. Social media is one important way for us to get that across.”

References

  1. Griffis HM, Kilaru AS, Werner RM, et al. Use of Social Media Across US Hospitals: Descriptive Analysis of Adoption and Utilization. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 2014;16(11):1-11.
  2. Silas R. How Are Physicians Using Social Media? MDigital Life.com. http://mdigitallife.com/how-are-physicians-using-social-media/ Citing work contained in the following report by Med Data Group: https://www.meddatagroup.com/wp-content/uploads/MedDataGroup-Physician-Adoption-of-Social-Media-Q22014.pdf
  3. Mayo Clinic Social Media Network. Social for Healthcare Certificate from Mayo Clinic and Hootsuite. https://socialmedia.mayoclinic.org/social-media-basics-certification/
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Why Branding is Important in Healthcare 

Global health spending is expected to continue and intensify over the next few years. Fueled by the rise in chronic diseases, technical innovations, consumer expectations and an ageing population, demand and spending for health-related services are set to increase.

Forecasts have predicted that global spending on health is expected to increase to $18.28 trillion worldwide by 2040. Increasingly patients and consumers are now influencing this spending and are more selective on where they obtain their healthcare. This has implications on how health marketeers should approach marketing activities.

Multiple Channels

As healthcare is evolving to a consumer centric model, health organisations need to increase their brand’s touchpoints. Achieving success in healthcare branding is all about consistently delivering on a promise of an exceptional patient experience. Online and social media have dramatically increased touchpoints (34% of patients use social media, 46% health portals, 67% search engines).

Positive patient experiences come from having a patient-centric approach to care, which shifts the focus from a condition or diagnosis to the patient. High performing hospitals put their patients first and this creates a delivery system that results in greater efficiency and better patient experiences, this further strengthens the brand.

The table below shows how consumers are learning about their healthcare providers:

 

Content marketing

According to Gallagher, many patients now turn to Google and social media for the services they want answers and information for, rather than traditional media. However, most of the time, they are faced with websites that just talk about products and services. This is great if you know what you’re looking for, but for people who require more information, it’s not fulfilling their needs.

Whether a patient is seeking out diagnostic information or a family member is looking for supportive tips, healthcare content can be extremely valuable when planned correctly. Therefore, get a branded content plan in place, aim to make this engaging and educational, as well as being sensitive with the type of medical language used. Content is a great way to highlight your knowledge and experience whilst driving more traffic to your website. Sales talk does not build trust in a brand, helpful impartial advice does.

Digital tools

More patients are using digital tools to manage their healthcare needs, often across multiple touchpoints. Studies have shown that 77% of patients use internet searches prior to booking an appointment. Already we are seeing movement in the sector to more digital communications as health leaders are devising new ways to connect with patients. This has removed the barriers of time and distance, bringing a traditionally fragmented industry closer together. Modern healthcare is about connecting people, and making better use of data more accurately and efficiently than ever before.

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Social Media Attitudes 'Conservative' Among Neurologists

Social Media Attitudes 'Conservative' Among Neurologists | Social Media and Healthcare | Scoop.it

Many neurologists who use social media (SM) do so cautiously in both office and personal settings, even when there is no official policy from their centers, a small survey study suggests.

Among the 44 neurologists who responded, 75% of the female SM users reported posting on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram only for personal use; 93% of them said they'd like to see restrictions regarding work use.

In contrast, 56% of the male users posted to these platforms for personal and professional use — and 36% reported that they'd like to have unlimited access to SM in the workplace.

Interestingly, 74% of the respondents did not know of any official institutional policy regarding SM use or said that there was currently nothing in place.

"We found very conservative but telling results," lead author, Ashley Jones, research assistant in the Division of Neurology at St Michael's Hospital, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, told Medscape Medical News.

 
 
Ashley Jones

"Social media was widely used and posting inappropriate content was quite rare," said Jones. "It's good that they're taking a cautious approach in navigating these unknown waters. However, there needs to be more work in educating employees. And legally speaking, I think everybody should have some sort of policy."

She presented the findings here at Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) 2017.

Scrutinized Conduct

Although the ever-increasing growth of social networking "has enhanced communication amongst individuals, it has also provided a forum in which the conduct of its users can be scrutinized by all, including professional peers," write the investigators.

They note that only a few studies have examined neurologists' practices and attitudes toward SM.

"So we thought it would be interesting to look at the trends and patterns of individuals within a profession that has such a high degree of professionalism that is expected," said Jones.

The 32-question survey was emailed to subscribers of a weekly neurology and psychiatry research news site. More than 4000 neurologists subscribe to the service, but only 44 surveys were collected.

Of the 53.8% who reported using SM, 57.1% were women. Although they had a greater presence on SM then men, "their conduct and views on professional SM practices are more conservative than males," note the researchers.

Findings in the full group include the following:

  • 92% did not approve of posting patient information;

  • 87% didn't approve of "friending" patients;

  • 87% didn't like the idea of posting about workplace concerns; and

  • 75% said they never posted inappropriate content, while 25% admitted to doing so "once or twice."

In addition, 18.4% of the respondents said their institution did not have a policy concerning SM, while 55.3% were unsure about any rules that were in place.

 

Pause Before Sending

"In this rapidly evolving digital era, it is important for medical institutions to implement professional SM policies," including educating employees on proper online etiquette, note the investigators.

Jones stressed that one good rule is to "pause before sending" to any of the SM platforms.

"Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others touch people all across the world. And 99% of the time, you can't retrieve anything that you've contributed. It's definitely a good policy to think about your audience," she said.

 

She added that it can be a fine line that clinicians need to walk. They may want to blog about new research or jump into a fast-paced twitter conversation yet they need to make sure what they type is appropriate, especially when the topic turns to politics.

"You need to think about everything that you're posting, and be sure of your institution's implemented policies as well as suggested policies from physicians' boards."

Jones reported a story from one doctor who was upset that a friend had posted a picture of him that was in a not-so-flattering situation. "You have to be careful of what you do because you never know who is watching and what they're going to do."

Clarify Opinions

ACTRIMS President-Elect Jeffrey A. Cohen, MD, Cleveland Clinic Neurological Institute-Mellen Center, Ohio, told Medscape Medical News that the study results weren't surprising, including that having a relationship with patients on SM or commenting on colleagues was inappropriate.

 

That said, he noted that today's environment can be especially confusing because institutions often want physicians to have a social media presence — including those who would prefer to ignore the whole idea of posting online.

"Many centers, including ours, are trying to develop better ways of communicating with our patients, especially because that's how younger patients communicate," said Dr Cohen.

"And, like many institutions, ours has a lot of rules and regulations and vetting that's required. But if it takes 7 weeks for a tweet to be approved, it kind of defeats the whole purpose of social media."

 

Still, he noted that the Cleveland Clinic recently had a controversy when one of its physicians made some comments that went against the institution's formal position.

"Those are some of the issues that can arise," said Dr Cohen. "Neurologists need to be careful about clarifying what opinions are their own personal ones and which they're espousing on behalf of their institution. And they need to make sure they don't blur that distinction."

He added that using social media at meetings such as ACTRIMS 2017 can be very helpful, but again he urged caution.

 

"People want to know what the experts think: What were their impressions of the meeting and what did they see that was interesting? But just be careful with posting immediate thoughts. Maybe think about it a little more first."

The study was funded by St Michael's Hospital foundation Waugh Chair and the MS Society of Canada. Ms. Jones and Dr Cohen have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) 2017. Abstract P132. Presented February 24, 2017.

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5 Tips on Automating Social Media Marketing

As a marketing healthcare professional, you want your social media tasks to be more efficient. You certainly don’t want to sacrifice quality, but you want to spend more time with customer contact, strategy and other activities that also drive business. There are plenty of automation tools out there to help you, but there are some things you should know about social media automation that will help you make the right decisions. Here are some tips on automating your social media marketing.

Fill Your Social Media Calendar, But Don’t Check Out

You know you have to post high-quality content. It’s a competitive landscape, and you want your posts to do their job, which is to create engagement and drive traffic. Social media automation tools (especially PromoRepublic) can help you do that. You can create and auto schedule posts on certain days to make sure you’re posting consistently.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is important, however, to make sure you don’t make your social feed look like you’re dialing it in. People pay attention these days. Holidays, events, special days and more can help you fill your social media calendar with timely, contextual and relevant posts that look thoughtful. Carelessly posting will make you look, well, careless.

Check out PromoRepublic’s calendar of ideas to schedule professional looking posts in seconds

Know When You Need to Be Around

Just because you have your posts scheduled and you know they are good does not mean that you can never be present on social media. In fact, if your posts are doing their job, you can expect quite a bit of engagement on your posts. Since it’s vitally important for your social presence to have a real face and voice behind it, automating replies is a definite no-no. That means you need to:

  • Reply to comments yourself and in real time
  • Answer questions yourself and in real time
  • Reply to private messages personally and in real time
  • Retweet manually (more on this in a minute)
  • Leave comments on pages and tweet at people yourself

A word about retweets. There are people who retweet every tweet that mentions them. DO NOT DO THAT. It’s self promotional, it annoys people and it creates tons of Twitter clutter. Don’t be responsible for Twitter clutter.

Knowing when you need to be around doesn’t mean that you have to haunt your social media channels 24/7. Pay attention to when your comments, likes and questions tend to come in and try checking in at those times. If that doesn’t work, set notifications for your social channels OR, check in at certain times every day and communicate those times to your fans and followers. It will give you added opportunities for Facebook Live events and Twitter Groups. And, speaking of timing…

Make Sure You Have An Ideal Posting Schedule for Each Channel

It’s all well and good to create posts your audience wants to see. But, if you post it at a time that they won’t see it, you aren’t doing your social media duties properly. Luckily, figuring out what time to post isn’t very hard. Certain automation tools can help you, but Facebook and Twitter have native apps that tell you all you need to know about optimal posting times. You want to figure out:

  • Where are the majority of your fans and followers?
  • What time do you get likes and shares on your posts?
  • When are you available to check social media?

Yep, it’s best to schedule posts with potential engagement (and that’s all of them, Folks) for times that you might be around to respond to comments and questions. So, combine point 2 with this point, because the very best social media marketers use their intuition and the analytics to tell them when to post, and when to be there to respond.

Yes, Set Notifications if You Have To

We sort of glossed over it earlier, but notifications are some social media marketer’s favorite tools. Again, there are third party apps out there that will let you know when someone reacts on Facebook or Twitter, but those platforms have that option built right in.

With Facebook, it’s under Settings>Notifications. You can set email notifications or text notifications for messages, posts on your timeline, comments on your links, and more.

Twitter, same deal. It’s under Settings>Email notifications and you can tell Twitter to email you when someone mentions you in a Tweet that’s liked and lots of other scenarios. You never have to miss a potential interaction on social media. You just have to decide how many emails you’re able to handle.

Curate With Care

You know the 5-3-2 rule, right? We’ve talked about it before. For every ten things you post, five should be content from others, three should be content from you, and two should be content that’s personal. Everybody’s definition of content from others, your own content and personal content differs. Of course when you share content from others, you have to make sure it’s relevant to your audience. Whether you’re sharing a blog post, someone else’s status, or retweeting, keep your audience in mind when choosing curated content.

While there are plenty of tools out there, like BuzzSumo and others, that will help you find relevant content to curate, this is a time where we believe it is especially important to listen closely to your social audiences and find content organically that is a good fit for your needs.

The reason is, if you take yourself on your customer’s fact-finding and information mining mission, you will likely understand them better. And, once you find the right blog post or article that they want to see, before they know they want to see it, you know you’ve succeeded.

Never miss an opportunity to connect with your social audience.

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Did social media adverse event reporting just get a little easier for Life Sciences companies?

Ever since social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter launched, both pharmaceutical and life sciences companies have been discussing the adverse event reporting (AE reporting) challenge. The ‘challenge’ here is simply ensuring you have a clear and manageable process in place to capture and report any social posts reporting adverse reactions to drugs or medical devices in a timely fashion.

A new tool launched from IMS Health in collaboration with Hootsuite may provide some companies with the support they need to more confidently address this need.

The Social Media Imperative in Healthcare

Today it is essential to have a strong social media presence in order for any company to be both accessible and relevant to their audience. 80% of people reach for their smartphone within 15 minutes of waking up in the morning. Most of those head for social channels like Facebook and Twitter. Throughout the day people are getting their ‘social’ fix whenever they can. This includes when on the toilet for around 40% of us. Shudder.

 

Around one third of people use social media for health information and support. Those dedicated to healthcare solutions and services have a responsibility to be present on such engrained channels in order to provide reliable and relevant information to those who need it.

(For useful links on social media in healthcare/pharma – see the end of this article)

The Adverse Event Reporting Challenge for Pharma/Life Sciences Companies

In the past AE reporting was a real barrier to pharma companies engaging on social media. There was a pervasive fear that something would be ‘missed’ or, more so, that the internal team would be overwhelmed with the deluge of reports unearthed through social media monitoring.

Some media AE reporting facts

  • Various pieces of research (and my own personal experience across many social media marketing initiatives) reveal that only approximately 1% of all social media posts meet the FDA requirements for AE reporting.
  • 73% of consumers use social media to search for educational information on their health condition but not to discuss it – so this low volume of AE posts make sense.
  • If you are managing a social media campaign, whether you may receive 1 message containing an AE or 1001, you need to have a solid process in place to meet legal and regulatory requirements.

In recent years most companies in the pharma and life sciences sector embraced social media channels to some extent in their digital marketing strategies. However people are always on the lookout for new tools to simplify the process and reduce workload on internal teams.

Have Hootsuite and IMS Health come up with a useful solution?

With over twelve million users, Hootsuite’s social media platform is intuitive and a daily go-to tool for most managing social media channels. On March 17th, IMS Health announced it has released an AE reporting tool that integrates directly with Hootsuite (one of over 150 tools Hootsuite has as add-ons to the platform).

This is the first Hootsuite integration specifically supporting pharma and life sciences companies and a first in the market. The simplicity here is what’s attractive. For someone who already uses Hootsuite, you get a tailored stream in your dashboard for potential AE posts.

Social media adverse event reporting stream in Hootsuite

I’ll be checking this out for sure but in the meantime you can read about it here from IMS and download the tool here, from Hootsuite.

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The Top Benefits of Social Media Management for Your Medical Practice

There are over 2.2 billion social media users in the world. This number speaks to the tremendous opportunity for engaging your audience and promoting your brand online. However, it also highlights the challenges in formulating an effective social media marketing plan that optimizes time and resources.

The following is a look the primary value and benefits of social media management, particularly when provided by an expert partner in this area.

Identify the Right Audience and Tools

Setting up accounts on every possible channel and randomly posting messages to a general audience are common novice mistakes in social media. A key starting point in a social media marketing plan is to identify the right social channels that allow you to effectively reach your targeted audience.

While many people use multiple social tools, the audience demographics and usage behaviors vary. Facebook is a behemoth across all demographics. However, Twitter and LinkedIn offer a great opportunity to target a professional audience, whereas Snapchat and Instagram are centered on teens and young adult users.

Figure out which tools reach your audience, and allow you to best promote the quality of your company and brands. An expert partner is a strong resource in this objective, as they are familiar with channel functionality and audiences.


Detailed profiles of your targeted social user help you prepare messages that attract attention and engage customers.

Developing Impactful Content

Identifying the particular channels to center your strategy on is step one. The next major benefit of social media management is planning powerful campaigns and messages. A top social media marketing plan typically maps out campaign strategies for several weeks or months in advance.

In addition to the specific campaigns you plan, schedule and execute, successful social media management also involves engagement. At least one-third of your messages should include direct engagement with users. However, effective management helps you know when and what to say in response to social users, and how to avoid the faux pas of spontaneously engaging inappropriately in a conversation.

Measuring Results and Fine-Tuning Campaigns

Finally, a social media marketing plan outlines strategies for evaluating results and fine-tuning campaigns. Even with a well-planned campaign, a primary benefit of social promotion is the ability to adapt and evolve. You can’t do this as easily on traditional media.

An expert partner works with you to set practical, reasonable goals for your social media campaigns. Over time, compare your actual performance (follower growth, engagement, responses, conversions, etc.) to your desired outcomes. In response to achieving goals early or failing to progress at an adequate rate, set new objectives or adapt your strategies.


It is difficult to dedicate all necessary resources to social media management in lieu of other business requirements. An expert partner is valuable.

Conclusion

There is much more to social media management than consistently posting messages on channels. An effective social media marketing plan outlines how to reach particular market segments with key message strategies on each channel you use.

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Why is Facebook a preferred platform for healthcare marketing?

There are two main trends in the marketplace these days that can be married to produce great results. The first is the explosion of social media platform usage and the second is a higher awareness towards a healthier lifestyle and preventive healthcare. When healthcare professionals look towards social media platforms to market their business, the results can be extremely promising and encouraging.

So, Why Facebook?

There are many social media platforms that exist today. However, ask anyone and they are likely to come up with names of only about 4 to 5 of them. Among them, Facebook is likely to be the first one that is mentioned. The statistics also support this observational finding. There are more than 142 million active users on Facebook in India and a large proportion of these accesses this platform from their mobile smartphones.

Other Benefits of Using Facebook to Market Healthcare Services

Given that Facebook is, by far, the largest social media platform, most social media marketing companies recommend using this platform if you want to optimize for time and budget allocations.

ROI –

The Return on Investment is far higher than any other. The incremental reach that you get by being present on an additional social media marketing platform does not yield similar returns.

Business page option –

Facebook offers the option of creating a business page. This is different from an individual page where you have friends or a group page where you have members. A business page typically has ‘fans’, which gives a complete individual identity to the business.  The added benefit is that search engines index Facebook business pages. If your business page profile is well optimized for brand and specific keywords, it is likely to appear in organic search results too.

Targeted community –

A business page for your healthcare offering can help you in creating a targeted community that is loyal and satisfied. You can take the physical association further and produce a positive patient experience. The fact that you can market to a specific community enables you to get higher levels of likes in a shorter period of time. You can also analyze the demographic profile of your fans or community and get a better understanding of the age group, gender and specific needs of the people who you are catering to, fostering further decision making with respect to healthcare strategies for your healthcare business.

Easier marketing –

Marketing to this captive group of people who have opted to follow your business or liked your page is a relatively easier option than marketing to the heterogeneous group. Efforts put into this area are likely to get better conversions too. Marketing efforts can be modified and adjusted based on specific needs of the group. For instance, if you’re offering a healthcare service to a large demographics of audience andyou get to know that the age group of the people on your page is older, you can design health campsor events for blood pressure, diabetes or cholesterol checkups. On the other hand, if you have a younger captive audience, you might want to focus on preventive health tips, fitness and the importance of nutrition.

Feedback –

Needless to say, Facebook is a platform where communication is unstructured. Fans talk to the business, other fans and the business can also communicate with fans. The setting of the platform allows for very candid and useful feedback. It is a great opportunity to interact with your customers on a one-on-one basis. Being responsive is essential and therefore someone adept in social media marketing services should undertake this task of constantly checking out the buzz and updating the page.

WoM –

Since people communicate on the platform, a Facebook page also creates Word of Mouth. A happy and satisfied customer will share a good experience, thereby exposing more people in their circle to your business page. Additionally, you are likely to attract similar and like-minded people to your social media page, thereby ensuring certain homogeneity in your following.

Brand reputation management –

With social listening tools, a good social media marketing company will be able to analyze the buzz being created around your brand. Regular analysis on this data will allow you to understand what your brand value is. What’s more, you can also address any issues that a specific customer may be facing and to ensure they do not turn into negative publicity.

Facebook ad –

Facebook also allows business pages to advertise for a fee. Paid advertising on Facebook is a great idea if you want to increase your reach. A study from Facebook and comScore showed that paid advertising has a reach that is 5.3 times higher than organic results. Such targeted advertising reaches even those who are ‘light users’ of Facebook. A word of caution is mandatory here. Facebook advertising requires some skill. You need to know the specific audience you want to target, how often to target them, the kind of posts to use to communicate with them and the tone of voice that will get the best results. If you want to ensure you don’t lose your precious budget trying to learn the tricks of the trade, hire a social media advertising company

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